Water flowing into Pakistan from the Sutlej, Ravi and Beas can be stopped only if three dam projects on this side of the border are completed.
Megha Manchanda reports.
The government last week reiterated its decision to stop water from the eastern rivers -- the Sutlej, Ravi and Beas -- flowing into Pakistan, in a bid to respond to the terror attack on the Central Reserve Police Force convoy in Pulwama on February 14.
This is, however, possible only if three dam projects on this side of the border are completed.
The oldest of these is the Beas-Sutlej link, to harness water and power resources of the Beas.
This was conceived in 1956 and was supposed to comprise two tunnels to divert water from the Beas to the Sutlej, and an open channel to generate power and increase storage capacity of the Bhakra dam.
The second project is the Shahpurkandi dam on the Ravi, conceptualised in the 1980s.
In December last year, the Union Cabinet had approved it, and central assistance of Rs 485.38 crore (for irrigation) was to be provided over five years, starting 2018-2019.
Once completed, this project will help improve utilisation of the Ravi's water.
At present, the river flows through the Madhopur Headworks downstream to Pakistan.
The third one is the Ujh Dam project, which has been delayed because of dispute over sharing water between Jammu & Kashmir and Punjab.
The proposed hydroelectricity and irrigation multipurpose project in the Kathua district of Jammu is expected to have capacity to generate 196 MW of power.
These were all declared national projects in 2009.
"Central government agencies -- and not the states -- should complete these projects, these have been delayed due to dispute over sharing water," said an official who did not want to be named.
The Indus Water Treaty was signed between India and Pakistan in 1960, after a deal brokered by the World Bank. It has survived three wars between the neighbours, in 1965, 1971 and 1999.
Another official who did not want to be named said this was a treaty in perpetuity and no one party could cancel it. The Vienna Convention also allows one party to challenge it.
Former water resources secretary Shashi Shekhar, however, said India was well within its rights to divert water from the eastern rivers.
"India had full right over the water from those rivers under the Indus Water Treaty," he added.
India can invoke Article 62 of the Vienna Convention to withdraw from the IWT.